Well, been WAY too long. Many updates to come soon. But for now, a bit on the really cool work stuff we are up to here, and then LOTS of adventure stories to come.
As you know I have been working in Naivasha, Kenya since November of last year. I love this area. It’s beautiful, right by the lake, peaceful, and people here are so keen on changing things here for the better. The lake is surrounded by villages of people living in a wide range of circumstances. Most people here make about $2-$5 a day- that is if they can find work. They live in mud 1-2 room houses, or rent a room in a large dormitory like block of housing. Water is brought via donkey cart, trash is thrown everywhere and sanitation is horrendous. If households have access to a latrine, it’s an outdoor pit one, probably shared by 20-60 people. There is no way to empty these latrines, so as they fill up, they over flow until someone closes it up and digs a new one near by.
A pit latrine currently in use in Kamere Village
What we have been doing is testing our solar treatment with CDC-Kenya. Treating buckets of collected shit on a solar concentrator and then taking samples to a lab in Nairobi to test that we are officially killing off all harmful pathogens. So I am actually reaching my gloved hand into buckets of heated shit and grabbing samples into a bag… yummy right?
Yes that is me reaching my hand into a barrel of hot shit
One of our new concentrators heating and treating a bucket of fresh shit
Meanwhile we are working on the toilet situation here. We are testing various models of in-home toilets, where we rent to households a small toilet that they can have as their own. With the rental fee we are employing a collector to come twice a week to collect the full buckets of shit, and replace with empty clean buckets. This gives families the dignity of being able to use a toilet in their own home, allowing them to keep it clean and sanitary, and having a constant way of removing the waste properly.
Two of the families using our toilets
Then we are working on reuse methods of what to do with the shit now that it is treated. Human feces has a lot of cool properties to it, high calorific value, it is naturally sticky do to the fibers in it, and it’s all organic. It’s hard to use these properties because it can also be really smelly, and just plain gross when you think about what you are doing. We are currently working with this incredible group in one of the villages. It is a volunteer group of handicapped persons that do various things around the villages to help out. Everything from trash collection and sorting, to HIV education and support, to making more environmentally friendly briquettes from trash and organic waste, and really anything else they can learn about and help with. So we came to them with the idea of our shit collection and treatment process and they were pumped. Even more so when I started explaining my ideas for creating briquettes and charcoal out of treated human waste that could be then burned as fuel right there in the village. We are starting testing on that as well as new ideas for steam powered engines run off of burning treated shit and these guys are incredible. they are so excited to help out and are really taking ownership of this knowing that I, with Sanivation, are not able to be here for forever.
Briquette making with Handicap group in Village
So basically things are exciting. Really starting to take off and move in ways I never expected. Really it is too much for just Hana and I to handle, so thankfully we are getting more and more of the villagers involved and they are so excited about these new ideas. Next we will be running a pilot in the refugee camp – Kakuma, up on the South Sudan boarder. Our website is also getting a make over, so pay attention to Savniation.com for more specific updates on everything.
The problem. Because there are always problems in life and this is just another one. Due to some very disappointing and uncontrollable circumstances our funding is, well, non existent right now. Some of the funding we were counting on has been denied due to legal issues and bureaucratic nonsense, and some of it has just been delayed and delayed some more. We now find ourselves in a place were incredible work is going on here, but we are running low on funds, specifically just living expenses for Hana (my co-worker) and I to be here. We have been working for the past 5 months here without any form of income and have been using lots of our savings to pay for various projects here outside of sanitation such as solar showers, solar cookers, proper trash disposal and its starting to catch up with us. Grants should be coming in… in government time, but until then, money is tight. We are applying for 501 3c status, to become officially a non-profit to start taking some much needed temporary donations.
On the positive note, I am starting to apply for grad-schools and they are very impressed with everything I have been up to since I graduated from Tech and all this work should help to get me funded for my PHD which I plan to start, back in the states, fall 2014. So in the next year I will be back in America… crazy.